How to weigh very different career options
February 4, 2014 4:57 PM Subscribe
I have an unexpected opportunity to apply for an executive director job, but I'm not sure what I want.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (3 answers total)
I currently work as a communications worker at a statewide civil rights non-profit(c3/c4). My previous boss left a week ago (after just under a year with us). A friend at another non-profit in a totally different field has encouraged me to apply for their open ED position, essentially running a trade group for image production professionals. That job would include running a magazine, as well as all of the day-to-day administration for a nationwide, but modest, 501(c)6.
In the main, I like my current job. We do good work, and I like the people I work with. But it's also really stressful, and there's a lot of turnover. I worked my way up through the ranks, in large part by being able to take on more responsibility when other people left. I'm currently halfway through a pretty big promotion and have the opportunity to negotiate for more, but while I've gotten more money, I haven't gotten a better title, which makes my resume (even) less impressive. But right now, I'm the only full-time employee in a communication department that was already punching above its weight with three people. The second part of the promotion is scheduled to happen in April, but I'll be able to move that up pretty soon. My plan had been to stick around, get my better title and pay bump, then start looking around for a position at another non-profit or with a politician. I never really thought about ED jobs; communications director seemed like it would be the next step.
The executive director's position is something that I'm pretty sure I could do, even if I'm not totally qualified on paper (the only other regular employee at the c6 org. is someone I've worked with before, and she's pressing me hard to apply). But getting together an impressive application package would mean getting references from people who — while they'll be absolutely glowing — would also let my current ED know I was looking at this position before I'd know whether I had a realistic shot at getting it. That's complicated by the fact that if I left, the organization would really be in a lurch — he still hasn't replaced my former boss, or the (underrated) design and web guy who left at the end of October.
The trade group is in the arts and involves publishing; my degree is in journalism and I had gone into it wanting to be a reporter or editor. Along the way, I kind of fell into my current position and have enjoyed and excelled at it (to the point that colleagues assume I have a more impressive resume than I actually do). There's a lot more money in the political arena, and I do genuinely enjoy it. But the idea of being a publisher and editor — along with the other ED duties — is really enticing too.
So, I'm trying to weigh really different career options, both connected to things that I really enjoy, knowing that if I apply for the ED job it could have real, negative consequences on my current position, especially if I don't get it, but that could be a really rare opportunity to step into working around a longtime passion of mine. Oh, and I only would have until Friday to apply, so I'd need to jump on that pretty much tomorrow morning. I'm not used to having opportunities like this, and don't really know how to weigh them out.
What questions should I be asking myself? What questions should I be asking other people? Have you had similar choices?